Archive for the Syria Category

“Military to Military – Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war” [London Review of Books]

Posted in CIA, Egypt, George W. Bush, Germany, Israel, Libya, Obama, Pentagon, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on February 10, 2016 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Vol. 38 No. 1 · 7 January 2016
pages 11-14 |

Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has…

Article excerpted; full article here

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Human Rights Watch report documents attack on democratic rights in US and Europe [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Africa, Anti-Islam hysteria, Egypt, EU, European Union, Fascism, France, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Islamophobia, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Police, Police brutality, Police State, Roma people, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on February 4, 2016 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tom Hall
1 February 2016

Last week, US-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch warned of mounting attacks on democratic rights throughout Europe and North America, which governments have justified as a response to the migrant crisis.

The group’s annual report warned that the arrival of refugees fleeing war and repression in the Middle East is “driving many Western governments to roll back human rights protections,” adding, “these backward steps threaten the rights of all” sections of the population, not just refugees.

In the report’s lead essay, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth notes, “In Europe and the United States, a polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric has moved from the political fringe to the mainstream. Blatant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees have become the currency of an increasingly assertive politics of intolerance.”

“Public discourse,” Roth continues, “has been filled with voices of hatred and fear of Muslims, for whom the refugees [arriving in Europe] are surrogates.” This climate contributes to “the persistent discrimination, hopelessness, and despair that pervade neighborhoods on the outskirts of some European cities.”

2015 saw a dramatic rollback of democratic rights throughout Europe and America. In France, the Hollande government pushed through sweeping expansions of government surveillance and curtailing freedom of speech, seizing upon the attacks in Paris this November and the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year. In the United States, the military was deployed to Baltimore to crack down on peaceful protests against police brutality at the beginning of the year, while mass government spying continued unimpeded.

The report contains comprehensive summaries for more than 90 countries for the year of 2015. By far the largest single section, with 24 pages, is on the European Union, more than Saudi Arabia, whose absolute monarchy beheaded record numbers of people last year, including many political prisoners, and countries currently embroiled in civil wars such as Syria and Libya. The United States came in second place, with 17 pages…

…Previous agreements by European governments to resettle asylum seekers throughout the continent remain a dead letter as countries throughout Europe close off their borders to refugees. Only 159 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy and Greece in spite of an agreement last year to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers from these countries.

Attacks on Muslims rose sharply last year, as far-right and neo-Nazi groups are emboldened by the discriminatory policies of European governments. Such attacks have grown by 46.7 percent in London in the first half of 2015. However, racist attacks are by no means limited solely to Muslims; reports of anti-Semitic attacks are also on the rise, and discriminatory evictions of Roma by governments throughout the EU continue. Widespread discrimination also exists in the Baltic countries against native Russian speakers.

As Roth notes, Europe is joined in its persecution of refugees by the United States. Last year 30 US governors tried to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states, while current Republican front-runner Donald Trump floated the idea of banning Muslims from entering the country altogether. The United States, the report declares, also “continued the dramatic expansion of detention of migrant mothers and their children from Central America,” many fleeing violence in their home countries, over the course of last year. While not mentioned in the report, the Obama administration rang in the new year last month with a new round of targeted deportations of Central American children.

The report also notes with concern the continued drive to expand state repression and surveillance in the United States and Europe, justified in the main by the supposed threat of terrorism…

…In the United States, spy agency leaders seized upon the Paris attacks last year to renew their calls for a “back door” to online encryption, despite the fact that the Paris attackers did not encrypt their communications. Meanwhile, Guantanamo Bay’s detention center remains open despite years of empty promises by Obama to close it. And last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama, “tightened existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo,” making the release or transfer of detainees even more difficult.

Many of the worst human rights violations elsewhere in the report were committed by allies of the United States or the European imperialist powers. In discussing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, for example, in which civilian infrastructure has been deliberately targeted, the report argues that by virtue of providing “intelligence, logistical support and personnel” to the Saudis the United States would be “potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.” The report also cites continuing US aid to Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Obama administration’s waiving of provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act to continue supporting the militaries of several African countries.

World imperialism has justified countless criminal wars over the past quarter century under the fraudulent pretext of “humanitarian interventionism.” Now, a leading human rights group is compelled to admit that these same powers are responsible for major human rights violations within their own borders. This not only exposes imperialism’s professed concern for “human rights” as a fraud, it is also an indication of the growth of police-state forms of rule within these countries…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/01/hrw-f01.html

Casualties mount in U.S. proxy war in Yemen [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, Egypt, EU, European Union, Genocide, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Obama, Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, Yemen on April 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Abayomi Azikiwe posted on April 12, 2015

Despite daily airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, the Ansurallah (Houthis) fighters seized the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden the following week.

Subsequent reports claim that the Houthis occupying the palace were forced to retreat by military forces still loyal to ousted leader President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saudi bombing of the area and air drops to Hadi loyalists are designed to halt the advances and consolidation of power by the Shiite Islam movement that is supported politically by Iran.

Casualty figures have increased as fighter jets deployed by Riyadh pound residential sections of cities and villages throughout the Middle Eastern state. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross say that the humanitarian situation is worsening daily; they describe horrendous conditions on the ground. Civilian residents are fleeing for shelter, further aggravating the overall social and economic crisis in the country.

Contested neighborhoods and commercial areas in Aden are littered with corpses, while the wounded flood into hospitals and clinics. Yemeni officials estimate that at least 185 people have been killed in Aden, while some 1,282 are wounded. Hospitals there have counted the figures of noncombatants since March 26, says al-Kheder Lassouar, Aden’s health department director. (BBC, April 5) Not counted are Houthis and loyalist forces who are also victims of aerial bombardments and gunshot injuries.

According to the BBC, casualties are much higher in various regions of the country. Clashes across Yemen have led to more than 500 deaths and some 1,700 injured since March 26, said United Nations humanitarian administrator Valerie Amos…

…In addition to the struggle between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have reportedly entered the fray, seeking to carve out territory for further expansion.

* U.S. imperialism’s strategy in the region *

The Obama administration has said little about the current situation in Yemen. One hundred Special Forces along with diplomatic personnel were evacuated weeks ago.

Yemen was championed as a so-called “counter-terrorism success story” just months ago. Pentagon and CIA-backed airstrikes and drone attacks have killed many targeted Islamic leaders and civilians, who have been in the vicinity of Washington-ordered aerial assaults.

President Hadi’s ascendancy to power was the result of Washington’s direct intervention in 2011 and 2012, which sought to manage the transition from Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. Nonetheless, in today’s struggle, forces allied with Saleh have joined the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi air strikes and interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.

The U.S. military has its hands full in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where wars of regime change and purported “democracy building” have gone awry. In 2011, the Obama administration initiated the destabilization and massive bombing of Libya, displacing Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya political system, destroying national institutions, and causing dislocation and economic decline there.

Corporate media report that counterattacks by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed, ousted Hadi regime were bolstered by arms drops from Riyadh. They structure the struggle in Yemen as a proxy war with Saudi forces on Hadi’s side battling Iranian influence.

In fact, Washington is using its regional pro-Western allies to carry out bombings intended to bolster U.S. corporate, financial and strategic interests in the region.

Moreover, most of the weapons, including fighter aircraft utilized by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of reactionary oil-rich monarchies, come from the U.S. and EU member states. The political independence exerted by Yemen’s Houthi movement is a concern of Washington and Wall Street, given their overall aim is to secure and expand U.S. interests on behalf of the super-rich.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, but it borders wealthier oil-rich Persian Gulf states. The waterways surrounding Yemen, including the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, have strategic significance for U.S. imperialism regarding commercial shipping as well as military dominance.

* ‘Humanitarian’ interventions debunked *

Developments in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya illustrate clearly that there is no such thing as a “humanitarian” imperialist intervention. Conditions in all these states have worsened as a result of the so-called “war on terrorism” and disingenuous efforts to “build demo­cracies” in Africa and the Middle East.

Although majority-Democratic Party congresses elected in 2006 and 2008 and the Obama administration were sent to Washington with a mandate to end wars of aggression and work toward a sustainable economic revitalization in the U.S., they have failed to do so.

This starkly reveals the imperialist character of both dominant parties. Consequently, in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, the Democratic Party’s electoral base among the working class and nationally oppressed expressed their opposition to these failed promises by staying away from the polls, with the exception of the re-election of Obama in 2012.

The peoples of the Middle East and Africa must rebuild their societies and national and regional institutions independent of imperialism. So, too, the working class and the oppressed inside the U.S. have no alternative other than to break with the Democrats and construct an independent movement, based on their political and class interests.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/04/12/casualties-mount-in-u-s-proxy-war-in-yemen/

America’s “dirty brigades” in Iraq [World Socialist Website]

Posted in CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Iraq, Obama, Pentagon, Syria, Torture, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 16, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

16 March 2015

Last August, the United States government and the media responded to the brutal decapitation of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with a show of moral indignation. The murder was seized on to justify an escalation of the war launched the previous week against ISIS in Iraq and, soon after, its extension into Syria. President Barack Obama denounced Foley’s execution as “an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the world.”

It has now emerged that even as Obama and other officials were declaring their abhorrence of ISIS atrocities, they were concealing, with the connivance of the media, photographic and video evidence of similar crimes being carried out on a large scale by US-backed forces in Iraq.

ABC News reported last week that Iraqi military units and Shiite militias trained and armed by the United States are being investigated by the Iraqi government for possible war crimes, including the torture and summary execution of Sunni prisoners, in many cases by decapitation, and the desecration of corpses. ABC has known of these crimes since September last year, when it came across an online video posted by a member of the Iraqi security forces showing a handcuffed prisoner being shot in the head.

An investigation was reportedly opened by the Iraqi government after an ABC News journalist presented evidence of “uniformed soldiers from some of Iraq’s most elite units and militia members massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners, and displaying severed heads.”

Multiple images posted by ABC last week depict soldiers wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces and the Emergency Response Brigade, which operates under the authority of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, posing with severed heads. Others depict Iraqi Special Forces dragging corpses behind their Humvees. Another image shows a corpse being hung from the guard tower of an Iraqi military base.

Responding to the revelations of war crimes carried out by its proxies in Iraq, the Obama administration issued a statement declaring, “If these allegations are confirmed, those found responsible must be held accountable.”

Such statements are worthless. While there has been detailed reporting on the crimes of ISIS, next to nothing has been said by the American government or media about the activities of the US-backed forces. The New York Times has yet to dedicate a single column inch to the latest revelations.

The ABC report has been buried by the rest of media, just as the US media sought to suppress the photos of torture carried out by the CIA and US military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq 11 years ago. The Obama administration continues to suppress more than 2,000 photographs that depict American soldiers torturing, raping and murdering Iraqi and Afghan prisoners.

As for accountability, it is the American government and military that bear principal responsibility not only for the crimes of the Iraqi military, but for those of ISIS as well…

Excerpted, full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/16/iraq-m16.html
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Related article: “Atrocities Committed by U.S.-Trained Iraqi Forces — Again” [The Intercept] – https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/03/13/iraqi-military-forces-equipped-u-s-commit-atrocities/

“Saudi oil and U.S. hypocrisy” Death of King Abdullah, feudal Saud tyrant and imperialists’ best friend [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-communism, Cameron, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, Spain, State Department, Syria, Turkey, U.K., US imperialism, USA, Yemen on March 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Sara Flounders January 27, 2015

Few events expose the utter hypocrisy of U.S. politicians’ grand words about democracy so starkly as their praise for the recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. For decades U.S. imperialism and all the imperialist powers have given political, military and diplomatic support to the corrupt feudal family that rules Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil.

Heads of state abruptly changed plans and rushed to Riyadh to greet the 79-year-old new ruler King Salman. President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron accompanied by Prince Charles, French President Hollande, Afghanistan President Ghani, Spain’s King Felipe VI, Turkish President Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif were all anxious to be assured of the regime’s continuation.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute and brutal dictatorship. The country is named after the royal Saud family that has expropriated the country’s fabulous oil wealth, and treats it as a wholly owned family asset. Their control is maintained by massive state-organized repression. All forms of political dissent and social organization, from political parties to trade unions, are banned under pain of death.

Executions by decapitation in public squares are held on average once every four days. Capital crimes include adultery, homosexuality and political opposition to the regime. Public stonings are also a common form of execution. Other punishments include eye gouging, limb amputation, tooth extraction, surgical paralysis and public lashings.

~ Wealth and poverty ~

Government departments are treated as fiefdoms. Their enormous budgets are unaudited and at the family’s personal disposal. Personal and state funds are completely commingled. All family members are guaranteed astronomical monthly allowances from birth, the amount depending on their proximity to the king’s inner circle. The Saud family, with almost 4,000 members, extends privileges up to 30,000 others related by marriage.

The cabinet is made up of Saud family members. The key ministries — interior, foreign affairs, the military commands, National Guard and regional governorships — are held exclusively by family members.

The government does not gather data on poverty, literacy, unemployment or health coverage. However, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in July 2012 that 60 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

A third of the country’s population of 27 million are immigrants with no rights, no status and no social benefits, who make up 80 percent of the work force.

Saudi unemployment is estimated at 10 percent by the CIA World Factbook, but 28 percent among young men aged 15 to 24, who lack needed skills. Women are not considered part of the work force.

~ Women enslaved ~

Women in Saudi Arabia have the lowest literacy in the region. More than 1.5 million migrant women work in domestic slavery. A 2012 report from the International Trade Union Confederation on workers’ rights in Saudi Arabia reported alarming levels of child labor, discrimination and forced labor.

All women, regardless of their class position, have no rights to employment, property or education. They cannot step one foot out of their homes unless covered head to toe in a long black abaya and accompanied by a male family member.

Women in powerful positions in the West ignore the reality of Saudi women. For example, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, hailed King Abdullah as “a strong advocate for women.” (Washington Post, Jan. 23) U.N. World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin praised King Abdullah: “He was a true humanitarian leader, always on the side of the world’s hungry poor.” (www.un.org, Jan 23)

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined in the imperialist outpouring of praise, expressing in the same statement his gratitude for the king’s “generous humanitarian and developmental support” throughout the Middle East.

Because Wall Street, U.S. oil corporations, military industries and banks reap such enormous profits from this gang of thieves, they have done everything possible to arm, train and reinforce the Saudi military. The role of the corporate media is to provide a veneer of respectability to this family of looters.

This narrow ruling elite relies on five U.S. military bases, Western arms and military training for its protection and survival. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, defends the status quo with aircraft carriers, 20 ships, nuclear submarines, 103 strike aircraft and 20,000 sailors and marines.

In return, the Saudi royal family pays protection money to U.S. military industries like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Boeing. Billions also go to British, French and German military corporations. The Saudi military budget in 2013 was $67 billion, the fourth largest in the world, after the U.S., China and Russia.

Saudi spending on weapons comes to 9.3 percent of its gross national product, the highest in the world. The economy is the least diversified of any oil-producing country, with more than 90 percent of its export earnings coming from oil. Virtually everything else must be imported.

Until the 1970s, four U.S. companies were the sole owners of Saudi oil — free and clear of taxes and duties. As revolutionary upheavals in the region led many countries to demand full control of their resources, Saudi oil was carefully nationalized into a conglomerate called Aramco. Exploration, drilling, pumping, transport and the building of pipelines, ports and terminals were all structured to return maximum profits to U.S. corporations. While the Saud family can take immense wealth for themselves, the vast majority of these funds must be held in U.S. banks or be used to purchase U.S. materials.

~ Contras and terror militias ~

This opaque, unaudited economy makes Saudi Arabia a perfect conduit and funding source for U.S. wars, military adventures and secret agencies. At the same time, the U.S. State Department can claim that it knows nothing about who is funding terrorist militias — from the Nicaraguan contras in 1983 to ISIS in 2015.

When Congress denied funding for the reactionary contras in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan covertly arranged for the Saudis to send them weapons to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Saudi money was a key component in the CIA’s war against the progressive Afghan regime that began in 1979. Working with Washington, it has also funded reactionary militias in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon that have metastasized into a viciously sectarian and destabilizing force throughout the Middle East.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005, is considered a mastermind of the Saudi terror network. He is now director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.

Saudi wealth also keeps other military dictatorships in the region afloat. In Egypt, the Saudis provided $1 billion to help General al-Sisi’s coup against the elected Morsi government. After the coup they pledged an immediate $8 billion to stabilize the military regime and have now committed more than $20 billion to maintaining that dictatorship.

The continued rule of the House of Saud is based on a thin, corrupt layer of extreme privilege. Dependent on immigrant labor, foreign trainers and technical experts, it is hated by its own people. U.S. imperialism has staked its continued domination of the region on a detested and narrow grouping that lacks popular support or legitimacy.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/27/saudi-oil-and-u-s-hypocrisy/

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Related article: “Saudi Dictator’s Death Shows NYT as Pawn of Power”

http://fair.org/home/saudi-dictators-death-shows-nyt-as-pawn-of-power/

“France Under the Influence” – Outrages of Charlie Hebdo and French imperialism [Counterpunch]

Posted in Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Egypt, Ethnic purges, France, Gaza, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Islamophobia, Israel, Libya, NATO, Palestine, Syria, US "War on Terror", US imperialism, USA on February 24, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I’m including this a bit late in the game since it included commentary on something weird I’d noticed, Charlie Hebdo’s favored method of taking already blasphemous depictions of Mohammed’s face and turning them into graphic penis jokes… e.g. why is his turban, unlike real turbans, distinctly bifurcated in their cartoons? – Zuo Shou

Jan. 20, 2015
by Diana Johnstone

The Charlie Hebdo terrorist assassinations struck France at a moment when it has an unpopular government and a weak President, when factories are closing and jobs are being lost, when French economic policy is determined by Germany via the European Union and its foreign policy is determined by the United States via NATO. Except for the therapeutic moment of togetherness on January 11, the country feels buffeted by winds of conflict it cannot resist.

There is a certain terrible symmetry playing out in France. Israel is deliberately and consistently doing all it can to excite fears among French Jews, in order to lure this desirable population into moving to Israel…

..At the same time, the so-called “Islamic State”, as well as “al Qaeda in Yemen” and associated fanatic Islamic groups are working hard to recruit fighters out of the Muslim communities in France and other European countries. Some 1,400 jihadists have traveled to Syria from France to join the Holy War. They are lured by the heroic prospect of helping to “build the Caliphate”, a sort of Israel for Muslims, a holy land restored.

Netanyahu’s recruitment drive enjoys the support of Western media such as Fox News that spread wild tales suggesting that Jews are not safe in France. This in turn threatens France with boycott by American Jews, a potential economic and public relations disaster which no doubt creates panic in French government circles. French leaders are not only closely attached personally to the Jewish community, they also fear the opprobrium of seeing their country slandered as “anti-Semitic”…

…Outside pressures are now pushing France into a war in the Middle East that it can neither afford nor win.

…France is obliged to take measures to stem the round trip traffic between Holy War in Syria and France. There is much talk of restoring authority and “republican values” to the schoolroom. But French leaders need to take a hard look at their own totally incoherent foreign policy, and there is no sign as yet of that happening. By taking the symbolic lead in the regime change war in Libya, France turned that country into a black hole of Islamic extremists. France collaborated in the murder of Gaddafi, whose “Green Book” philosophy was…an attempt to provide a modernizing and moderate version of Muslim principles to combat the Islamic fanaticism that had always been his main domestic enemy and which profited from his demise. The NATO destruction of Gaddafi’s Libya brought France into war in Mali, in pursuit of an elusive enemy that Gaddafi had managed to control.

France like the United States designates Islamic terrorism as its great enemy, while doing everything possible to favor its growth and extension. Constant support for Israel, even during murderous bombings of helpless Gaza, even when Mossad assassinates scientists in Iraq or Iran, or even when Israeli warplanes deliberately sink a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty, makes the United States appear to be manipulated by Israel, while France appears to be manipulated by both Israel and the United States.

For over half a century, the West has systematically opposed the secular nationalist states in the Middle East, starting with Nasser’s Egypt…Israel was always most afraid of Arab nationalism, as it would potentially embrace Palestine. Religious fanaticism has seemed safer. Arab nationalism was the positive political hope of the region, and once that hope is destroyed, Islamic extremism rushes into the vacuum. This struggle continues in Syria, with France taking the lead in opposing Bachar al Assad, which means, in effect, supporting the Islamists just as it prepares to go to war against them.

The evident madness of this situation is the reflection of a French government which no longer seems able to devise a policy in its own national interest, and is floundering in the crosscurrents of “globalization”.

~Blasphemy and Pornography~

France is ringing with proclamations that we must continue to publish Charlie Hebdo-style cartoons attacking Muslims, or otherwise we shall have surrendered to Islamic demands. To assert our freedom we must prove that we are not afraid to commit blasphemy.

…The notion that it is very daring to commit “blasphemy” against a god in whom you do not believe makes no sense to me. Especially when this is not a god officially worshiped in the society where you live, but is rather the god of a somewhat unpopular minority. Certainly, in the milieu of Charlie Hebdo, insulting Islamic beliefs was the surest way to amuse one’s friends. It was supposed to help sell papers.

On the other hand, drawing cartoons that will infuriate masses of people to the point of murder amounts to taking a dare, rather than “blasphemy”. You are always free to take a dare. But common sense tells you to ask yourself if it is worth it.

Suppose you dislike aspects of a particular religion, and would like to combat such beliefs. Is drawing cartoons that will unite millions in indignation an effective way to combat those beliefs? If not, this is intellectually no more significant than bungee jumping. Whee, look how daring I am. So what?

There are much more effective ways to argue about religion. Take as a model the enlightenment philosophers of the 18th century. Repeated insults are more likely to unite people in defense of their faith. That is just a practical consideration, regardless of “freedom”.

Or on the other hand, the insult could be a provocation intended precisely to make the believers come out in the open, so that they can be attacked. This may be a secret motive for promoting such caricatures. Provoke Muslims into defending their religion, in a way that strikes the majority of our population as totally absurd, so that you can ridicule them still more and perhaps take measures against them – war in the Middle East (alongside Israel), or even expulsion from our countries (an idea now being raised…).

In the specific case of Charlie Hebdo, the vast majority of supposedly “blasphemic” drawings…were more or less pornographic, featuring sketches of male sex organs. The presence of the phallus was “the joke”…

…This was apparently true of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, published in seven million copies with a subsidy of a million euros from the French government. To this vast public, the cover drawing by the surviving artist Luz (Renald Luzier) was an image of peaceful reconciliation, showing the head of a man wearing a turban, explicitly intended to represent Mohammed, shedding a tear and holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the statement, “All is forgiven”…But Luz also wanted to make his colleagues laugh at his cover, and they reportedly laughed. Why? According to internet comments, the drawing was an inside joke, because it included two hidden outlines of penises – Charlie’s trademark. This was all good dirty fun for the Charlie kids. “We are like children”, said Luz.

…Muslims saw the latest Charlie cartoon as a repetition of obscene insults aimed against their Prophet – not only blasphemy, but a pornographic “in your face”…

…The Charlie Hebdo humorists were a bit like irresponsible children playing with matches who burned the house down. Or perhaps several houses.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/20/france-under-the-influence/
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For explication of Charlie Hebdo’s penchant for drawing penises, hidden or otherwise, see: http://www.les-crises.fr/charlie-a-manipule-la-france/
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Other related articles:

“Racist provocation and the ‘war on terror'” [World Socialist Website] – http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/15/pers-j15.html

“Charlie Hebdo and War for Civilisation” [Media Lens] – http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2015/783-charlie-hebdo-and-the-war-for-civilisation.html

French, European imperialists escalate Islamophobia [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Belgium, CIA, Economic crisis & decline, Fascism, France, Genocide, Germany, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Obama, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on January 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein January 19, 2015

French, U.S. and British imperialism and their partners, each in their own way and for their own aims, are determined to escalate wars abroad and repression at home.

The French ruling class has imposed an undeclared state of siege on its own Muslim population and has used troops in North and West Africa to repress rebellions protesting the publication of Islamophobic cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

French President Francois Hollande, of the misnamed “Socialist Party,” has declared that France is “at war,” echoing a previous statement by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. France has deployed 122,000 heavily armed troops and police throughout the country and has declared a “high alert.” Soldiers and police with heavy weapons patrol the streets, train stations and other public places. Raids have been carried out and dozens of people arrested.

In neighboring Belgium, the authorities deployed 300 troops to Antwerp and Brussels, carried out sweeps and shot two people dead in a raid in the town of Verviers. In Germany, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate spoke of an “abstract high danger” as the authorities deployed 250 police in pre-dawn raids. The racist frenzy in France led to the stabbing death in a village outside Avignon of a Moroccan man, Mohamed El Makouli, by an Islamophobic neighbor.

Imperialists step up international aggression

The European imperialists are doubling down on their attacks abroad as well. The French government is flying Mirage jets over Iraq in a joint operation with the U.S. Instead of addressing the crushing poverty and racism suffered by the millions of French youth and workers of African or Middle Eastern ancestry, the answer of the regime is to deploy troops and step up surveillance in the oppressed communities and at airports.

Instead of pulling back from war on Muslim people in Iraq, Syria and North and West Africa, the Hollande regime is pressing ahead with the policies that led to the attacks against the unspeakable racism and chauvinism expressed by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.

Hollande and his fellow imperialists organized a mass march in Paris on Jan. 11 allegedly for “free speech,” which defended and celebrated the magazine that insulted the religion of nearly 2 billion oppressed people worldwide. In fact, you do not have to be religious at all to be revolted by the arrogant, insensitive depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in sexual poses and other objectionable images.

Hollande is partly motivated by the fact that his popularity in France was at a dismally low point before the crisis. And he is struggling to fend off challenges from the fascist National Front Party, led by Marine le Pen, who got a quarter of the vote in the 2014 election for the European Parliament. It is characteristic of social democrats such as Hollande that the way they fight the right is to move to the right themselves and occupy the political territory of the National Front.

President Obama and his administration have been trying to bob and weave through the crisis. The Obama administration stayed away from the Paris demonstration. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris just blocks away at a conference, stayed away from the march.

Washington is universally hated by Muslims

This is for purely imperialist purposes. Washington is the most universally hated power by Muslims — from the Middle East to Pakistan, to Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, and other parts of the world — for its wars of aggression, its drone strikes, its torture policies, its massacres of civilians, its prisons from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, and more.

The recent exposure of the CIA torturers in the Senate Intelligence Committee report is filled with graphic descriptions of U.S. torture. These have been read around the world. Washington is trying to placate Muslim public opinion and has even banned references to “Islamic extremism.” In addition to the fact that the neocons and militarists in Washington despise French imperialism and do not want to increase its prestige, they certainly did not want to be identified with defense of the insult to the Prophet Muhammad at a time when they are escalating their attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Syria and at home.

Washington and the Pentagon have no intention of pulling back on their aggression. Obama held a joint press conference on Jan. 16 with his junior partner, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to announce common measures to “fight terrorism.” Cameron announced new cooperation in the war in Iraq and in Ukraine, among other gestures of imperialist subordination.

But Washington intends to keep leadership of the imperialist assault against the oppressed. While in Paris during the march, Eric Holder announced that the administration will host a summit in Washington on Feb. 18 on preventing violent extremism.

Washington recently announced a new deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They will be used to train carefully vetted, Pentagon-approved Syrian counterrevolutionaries in order to build up a 5,000-person force to continue the war against Syria and the Islamic State.

Washington is also behind the counterrevolutionary government of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine, which is planning a new offensive to try to recapture the east from anti-fascist forces of resistance to a U.S.-Europe takeover.

Rise of Islamophobia

The background on the rise of Islamophobia is the growing economic crisis that is engulfing Europe. Islamophobia has become the battle cry of the ultra-right and fascist forces in Europe, just as racism, sexism and homophobia make up the battle cry of right-wing extremists and fascists in the U.S.

Fascist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic parties exist in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and other countries in Europe. Prior to the most recent publication of cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, there were demonstrations throughout Europe demanding crackdowns on immigration and immigrants.

In recent days specific Islamophobic demonstrations have taken place in Germany and France. It is an illusion that Islamophobia can be stopped by a government ban of right-wing demonstrations.

The social soil for political reaction exists in France, for example, where the official unemployment rate is 10 percent and youth unemployment is 20 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates have reached 40 percent in the oppressed neighborhoods.

French capitalism, and European capitalism in general, has been unable to lift itself out of the global capitalist crisis which began in 2007. There has been no recovery for the European working class. Unemployment in the eurozone, as in France, is above 10 percent, and youth unemployment is double that. In some countries such as Greece and Spain unemployment is between 15 and 20 percent.

This is part of a general crisis of overproduction that has plagued the global profit system and which is intensifying every month. Right now the right wing has seized the advantage and is feeding on the discontent of the masses to garner support for divisive, racist ideology. This is aggravated by the inability of the capitalist governments to turn the economic situation around.

Persistent and growing unemployment should be a signal for a revival of the working-class movement. It is high time for the communists and progressive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and pro-working class forces to unite to defend the Muslim population and push back the fascists.

Copyright © 2015 Workers.org

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/19/french-european-imperialists-escalate-islamophobia/